July 28, 2012
Google Still Has Illegally Obtained Street View Data
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
In another eye-brow raising move, Google has admitted that it did not delete data it collected while unleashing its Street View service on the public.
Google has been under scrutiny, particular in Europe and Australia, for how it went about collecting data from Wi-Fi networks as it cruised along streets, snapping photos of the streets and surroundings.
The company agreed to delete the data after international pressure surrounded the online search giant began to grow.
Britain's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) received a letter from the tech giant this week in which it admitted it had kept a "small portion" of the data it collected.
"Google apologizes for this error," Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel, said in the letter ICO published on its website.
The ICO said in a statement that Google had agreed to delete all the data nearly two years ago, and that its failure to completely wipe out the controversial information is a "cause for concern."
Gary Davis, Ireland's deputy commissioner for data protection, said his organization is conveying "deep unhappiness" with Google, and he wants answers.
Google acknowledged back in 2010 that while it was carrying cameras across the world, creating a three-dimensional map of the world's streets, it had scooped up passwords and other data through unsecured wireless networks.
Investigators revealed that the intercepted data included private information, such as legal, medical and pornographic material.
Google said it recently discovered the left-over data while understating a comprehensive manual review of Street View disks. It said it had contacted regulators in all of the countries it had made promises to, including France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Austria and Australia.
ICO instructed Google to turn over the data it had left-over immediately so that it can undergo forensic analysis.
This isn't the only time Google has been criticized for how its handled an authority's request.
The Federal Communications Commission fined Google back in April because the company "deliberately impeded and delayed" its investigations into Street View.
The ICO has the power to fine Google up to about $780,000 for the most serious data breaches. However, the penalty Google will receive will most likely be far less severe.
"We are also in touch with other data protection authorities in the EU and elsewhere through the Article 29 Working Party and the GPEN network to coordinate the response to this development," the ICO said in a statement. “The ICO is clear that this information should never have been collected in the first place and the company´s failure to secure its deletion as promised is cause for concern.”